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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

David Jolly crashes Charlie Crist's campaign kickoff

Ken Welch, Wengay Newton, and Carole Crist look on as Charlie Crist announces for Congress

Adam Smith

Ken Welch, Wengay Newton, and Carole Crist look on as Charlie Crist announces for Congress



Charlie Crist announced his campaign for Congress in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, kicking off his ninth campaign for elected office in 25 years.

"Public Service is in my heart. I can't help it," the former governor and former Republican-turned-Democrat said at a recreation center surrounded by several dozen supporters and the ever-present fan keeping him cool.

The real news from the event was U.S. Rep. David Jolly crashing Crist's party to blast the man running to succeed Jolly in Congress.

"I care too much about this district, the institution of Congress, and who represents us to lay down and let this huckster walk into office," Jolly said. "He's a fraud. ...He will tell you anything that you want to hear for the sake of trying to get your support."

Jolly is stepping down from the seat and running for U.S. Senate -- and attacking Crist is pretty good politics in a competitive GOP Senate primary -- largely because the south Pinellas district has been redrawn to overwhelmingly favor a Democrat.

Republican former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is looking seriously at running, and Jolly said he would enthusiastically back him if he runs. Then he pointed to Democratic County Commissioner Ken Welch and said he also would make "a great congressman" for the heavily Democratic district.

"I have served with a lot of bad members of Congress. Charlie would be the worst I've ever seen," Jolly said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 12:16pm]


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